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Interactives: Games as Advertising

Studies show that people receive and comprehend messages better when they don’t just see them, but interact with them. That’s a large part of the philosophy behind the maps we make here at Maga. They aren’t simply a picture to look at or a slide to read, they’re a path to follow and a process to understand. 

Another field where interaction is sought after is advertising. The very foundation of advertising is based on the pursuit of capturing the attention of a target audience. An eye-catching color or font in a newspaper ad, the exciting voices coming out of the radio detailing the latest deals at the auto lot, or the unusually attractive men and women featured in beer commercials around the word. Throughout all channels, advertisers try their hardest to make sure that the viewer is looking, listening, or watching. All to ensure that the brand, logo or slogan is being absorbed.

What better way to ensure the attention of an advertisement’s audience than to put it in a game? Attention is required to progress through it, unlike the TV commercials one can simply change the channel on.

The first combination of games and advertising followed a familiar pattern: advertisers paid to put their ads in games that were produced by a third party. They often followed familiar scheme, like driving past a billboard for Burger King on a virtual road in Need for Speed.

A Burger King advertisment in EA’s Need for Speed Underground 2

Lately, however, companies have begun taking a different approach. Instead of using a video game as a platform to show their ads, they have begun developing smaller, simpler games that are advertisements in their own right.

Rough Guides makes travel guides and, for their latest advertising campaign, produced a simple online game where the player has to dodge around obstacles while driving down the road. The game, Rough Roads, has the company’s logo plastered throughout. It allows them to track how many times it’s been played (or equivalently, how many times their ad has been viewed), and in order to share your high score with your Facebook friends a user is automatically subscribed to a Rough Guides newsletter.

Another great example of a first-party game is Draw-a-Stickman, made by Hitcents. Allowing the user the draw a simple stickman and help their creation through a simple adventure, the games showcases the company’s interactive capabilities.

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My sad attempt at a stickman. I’m sure our designers could do a better job!

Letting a user customize the game’s experience guarantees that they are paying attention, which was the holy grail of advertising in the first place. With these interactive advertisements that are enjoyment, and not an annoyance, to the target audience, companies are making sure that potential customer will remember their name.

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